‘Underdogs’ win $1K
by Kim Eagle, lifestyles editor
The Texas Underdogs, a local group of children and teens, recently won first place and $1,000 in the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival held in San Antonio. The group is donating their prize money to El Progreso Memorial Library.
The 90-Second Newbery Film Festival is an annual video contest in which young filmmakers create weird movies that follow the stories of Newbery-winning books.
The Texas Underdogs comprises Jimmie Alexander Luna (Uvalde High School junior), Isabella Luna (homeschooled fourth-grader), Anahi Garcia (Robb Elementary fourth-grader), A.J. Negrete (Anthon Elementary second-grader), Daniel Coronado (San Antonio first-grader), and Erasmo Vasquez (director and graphics), Grace Coronado and Cynthia Garcia (assistant directors), and Corina Luna (hair/makeup).
The group based their 90-second film on the Newbery Award-winning book, “The Graveyard Book.”
In the book, an unusual boy named Bod is the only living resident of a graveyard. He was raised from infancy by ghosts, werewolves, and other cemetery denizens. During his time in the graveyard, Bod learned the ghostly technique of fading so that no one can see him.
The book follows his life in the cemetery and beyond.
The group retold the story of the book with out-of-this world costumes and spooky makeup reminiscent of a horror story. Out of 21 participants from all over the area, the Uvalde team captured top honors.
“We are so excited and pleased that our own Uvalde students walked away with first place, beating 21 other entries at the film festival,” said Mendell Morgan, library director. “It was amazing to see the imagination and creativity shown by all the young people who took part, but The Texas Underdogs actually turned out to be top dogs.
“We are delighted and honored that they are donating the cash prize of $1,000 to El Progreso Memorial Library. This money will be used to buy more quality books in children’s literature, including Newbery Medal books. This should encourage others to... try their hand at expressing their own creativity.”
Different things motivated the children to succeed in filmmaking, from finding an avenue to try out their acting chops, promoting literature, or helping out the local library where they each spend time.
Alex Luna, the oldest member of the team, said it was a lot of fun making the film – especially watching the younger kids have such a good time.
“I enjoyed helping them and the library bring attention to the importance of reading,” Alex said.
Isabella Luna said the team chose to give the prize money to the library because it is a resource they cannot be without.
“We don’t have anywhere else to go here for books and WiFi, and it’s a great classroom,” Isabella said. “I love the library.”
A.J. Negrete said the library was an easy choice and hopes they will use the money to buy more books.
“We love the library and books,” A.J. said.
Anahi Garcia added to that sentiment by stressing the importance of reading, especially for young people.
“Reading and writing is an important part of learning,” Anahi said. “Books can take you to a different place with your imagination. Reading is fun and exciting.”
Daniel Coronado, who loves acting, said his favorite part of the film was when he fell out of a tree.
“I love acting; I want to be an actor,” he said.
To show its appreciation for the young filmmakers, the library is hosting a special reception and film screening on Feb. 5 at 7 p.m.
Community members are invited to the library to show their support for these selfless artists.
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